Over the last couple of years, the term ‘influencer’ has come out of the fashion realm and into mainstream language and particularly social media. At first I was a little non-plussed. I mean, what on earth is an influencer?
As I explored this rather strange adaptation of a word this definition was provided “An influencer is someone who has: the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience. a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages.” It goes on to describe influencers in this realm as assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve their marketing objectives.
I’m not sure about you however I see that as a very narrow view of what it is to influence and it seems that it has little to do with Values and more to do with dollar value.
So that then got me thinking about who had influenced me in my development, my character, my sense of self and self-confidence. This reflection took me a long way back to a gem of a book that many people today would never have heard of and yet was a major influence on many people in its time.
The ethos of this classic book which was first published in 1936 is grounded in respect – for self and for others. It was not about dollars, it was about engagement and the guidelines outlined in it are so simple that I, as a 12 year old then, seem to have taken these to heart and on reflecting about who had influenced me landed here.
The book is called “How to Win Friends & Influence People” and it was written by Dale Carnegie and in fact a whole program for developing both people and sales was developed through it. The guidelines are straight forward and, if applied with that foundation of respect, simply work.
What are these simple guides?
Become genuinely interested in other people; Everyone is a story walking, a fascinating amalgam of all of the experiences that life has provided tempered with the emotion of those experiences to create a unique perspective worthy of attention.
Smile; This makes a big difference when you can offer a genuine heartfelt smile to another person while it also lifts your own mood as your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress and generates more positive emotions within you, which others sense.
While it may sound clichéd now – use a person’s name, to them it is the sweetest and most important sound in any language; doing this offers the respect that you have taken time to pay attention to who the person is.
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. As an observation, often we are listening with the intent to interrupt rather than the attempt to understand. If you can ask good questions you can learn a great deal about people and as they share create a level of comfort with them.
Talk in terms of the other persons interests; I remember as a young boy being encouraged in a conversation by a teacher who asked me about my interests and aspirations and really listened to me. I remember that person to this day and appreciate what they ignited within me. That’s powerful.
The last simple guide is to make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely; Most of us have been in the situation where we are talking and someone comes in does the one-up thing. Telling of a bigger story, a better car, a larger experience. Remember, when we are sincere in our communication we are not in a competition so take the ego out of it and come from the heart.
This was a journey for me and one which in hindsight has been extraordinary; I hadn’t realised the influence this little book had had on me. What’s been your influence and what guides you? It’s worth contemplating because we all influence someone for better or for worse.